PRAY, PRAY, PRAY
My parents believed in the “trinity principle” of prayer: pray humbly, pray believing, and pray with thanksgiving. They were quick to remind us as children that prayer was not asking for things selfishly. My father often said, “I have answered every request my children have made to me. The answer has not always been what they wanted, but it has always been in accordance with what I thought was best for them at the time.”
My father taught me a great deal about prayer. If something happened that caused him to rejoice, he immediately thanked God for the blessing. When something tragic happened to others, he immediately felt a burden to pray for them. Prayer was the centerpiece of his ministry, and he challenged others to make prayer the center of their lives. He understood that God grants His power through the prayers of His people.
My father often talked about the privilege we have of approaching the throne of God, the blessing we receive when God answers our prayers, and the faith that develops within us when God answers differently than we like. Our human nature is not bent toward receiving answers such as “no” or “wait” with contentment. But as followers of Christ, we must not only accept God’s will but also thank Him for such answers—even if it is hard to do.
Our heavenly Father has a purpose for every answer to prayer He sends to us: to make us more like Christ. This is the will of God. We are not to pray for what we want but are to pray for what God wants—for His will to be done in our lives. As we do this in times of prayer and fellowship with God, He remolds our desires and brings our hearts into union with His will.
As we follow Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit within us helps us to make sure our petitions line up with the heart of God. Of course, we must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in this. If we try to brush Him aside or think we can bring God around to our way of thinking, we offend the Holy Spirit. He desires to lead us in our prayers . . . not the other way around.
I once heard someone say, “When you plant seed, you don’t expect to dig it up—you expect it to grow through hard ground.” Prayer is no different. We plant the seed of prayer in our hearts and let faith cultivate it through fellowship with our heavenly Father. He listens attentively and acts when He knows we are ready. If He withholds an answer, it is because we still have lessons to learn. He will till the soil in our souls until our wills are ready to receive His answer.
My father said many times, “Those who have turned the tide of history have turned it by means of prayer. This should be the motto of every follower of Jesus Christ. Never stop praying, no matter how dark and hopeless it may seem.” There is nothing that will grow our faith more than the three key elements of faith building: pray, pray, pray.
What do you tend to pray about when you come before your heavenly Father? In what ways do you seek to line up your requests with His will and purpose?
How do you tend to respond to God when He answers your prayers with “wait” or “no”? What do these responses tell you about your relationship with God?
How has spending time in prayer changed you? How have you seen your heart and mind being transformed into the likeness of Christ as you spend time with God each day?